Advice about OUSD Kindergarten
Hi, I can't speak to Cragmont or even BUSD schools, but we did switch my son from OUSD where he attended kindergarten back to the school he attended for pre-K (EBI). He had a wonderful teacher at Chabot (he got really lucky), so that was not the problem for him, but it was clear that the OUSD model was a bad fit for him. He started off the school year excited about his new school but he soon changed from the happiest kid in the world, one who, at EBI, could barely be bothered to say goodbye at drop off and was always begging to be the last one picked up at the end of aftercare, to an unrecognizably sad kid who actually cried when I left his classroom after I volunteered and lashed out in all manner of other surprising ways. Since I volunteered about once a week (until it became clear to me and the teacher that I was causing more harm than good), I think I understand the problem. There really is truth to that saying that kindergarten is the new first grade. And to accomplish that mandate re reading/writing/math, etc. -- especially where there is only one teacher for 22 wriggly and unfocused 5-6 year olds, some of whom require more attention than others -- there is necessarily a lot of worksheet work and an emphasis on body control. For some children this is not a problem. And for some parents, accountability re these metrics is paramount. But that is not so much the case for my son. He was used to learning in a far more organic way, having much more freedom to play and explore and pursue his interests, having an outlet for his curiosity, and working and interacting with other kids in the classroom. We didn't realize how important these things were for him (and by extension, to us) until we tried to switch him to a different model. And FYI, this is not a child that transitions poorly or has any difficulty making friends.
He is in second grade now at EBI and he is reading and writing above grade level in English (though spelling is atrocious), he is above grade level in math, and he can also speak Spanish (very well), and read and write in Spanish (well, but not as well as in English). But most importantly, he loves school. I mean, so much that he gets slightly depressed during holidays.
We never expected to be in private school, especially where we have the option to attend a very highly ranked free school where all my neighbors' kids seem to be doing well. I assume the finance piece is the biggest concern for you, as it was for us. It was definitely not an easy decision, and we feel fortunate that we are in a position to make the decision at all, but in the end we felt like 6 was too young to hate, or at least, mentally check out of, school.
Archived Q&A and Reviews
See also: Transitioning to all-day kindergarten
I have heard from multiple sources that the Oakland Unified school district is seriously considering lengthening the school day for kindergarten in the fall-- in response to stressed out teachers that can't fit all they need/want to teach into a few hours, research stating that a longer day is a huge benefit to kids, the district wanting to bring back familes that have opted for private school, and other various reasons. But...when I call the district or our local school to find out, no one really seems to know what's going on, or bothers to return my call. Does anyone out there know about this, or how I can show my support for it? Thanks in advance. hopeful mama
I've heard that OUSD is going to all day K in Fall. Does anyone know about this for certain? What are the pros and cons of all day K? What about teacher workload issues?? Thanks! Julie
My understanding is that the OUSD is starting all day kindergarten in certain schools starting in Sept. 05. I have a son entering kindergarten at Joaquin Miller, which will have the new schedule. All day kindergarten will be adopted by schools this year where there is space available for extra classroom(s). Some schools currently have AM and PM kindergarten classes that share a classroom. Unless an extra classroom can be found to accommodate the new schedule, these schools will be given a year to arrange for a new space and will retain their current kindergarten schedule for the upcoming school year. Bottom line: check with your local elementary school! Charlotte
My son is entering Kindergarten next Fall at Crocker. I also just found out they are doing the long day. I am excited about it. I am a tiny bit worried that it will be a long week for him, but I think the benefits will outway that. Before, the hours were even shorter than his preschool...I had had a big concern with the short day that there was such little time for creative, enrichment and free play...it was all about the ciriculum, which in my opinion is not appropriate for what a kid that age needs. I had talked to some teachers before it was approved. They were hoping it would happen-they ! said they asked for it to happen. They were very stressed with the short day not having enough time to do with the kids what they wanted to do. With more hours, they do not plan to add any more cirriculum, but add all enrichment type stuff and more free play and be able to go deeper with what they are learning. They want the long day.
As for longer work day for the teachers, I'm not an expert, but I believe that they are already contracted to stay until 3 anyway, so they won't necessarily have more hours to work. They will have less prep time, but the teachers I talked to seemed to rather have more time with kids than more prep time. That's what I know.
The benefits of all-day vs. half-day kindergarten depend on the instructional program offered in each! My oldest daughter attended half-day kindergarten at Peralta School in North Oakland, and I'm hoping that the program will continue to be half-day when my twins attend Kindergarten there in 2006. The program at Peralta is especially rich because of its half-day structure. Both the morning and afternoon kindergarten teachers are in the classroom all day collaborating & supporting each other. During a significant portion of each day, the children are divided into small groups, with each teacher supervising a group & a very experienced teacher's aide superviding a third group, resulting in an adult-child ratio of 3 to 20, rather than 1 to 20 as it is in many full-day programs. Although the children are in class for less time than children in full-day programs (approx. 45 minutes less when you take out time spent at lunch), the instruction they get is of higher quality because of the more direct contact they receive from teachers as a result of the lower adult-child ratio. The children receive enrichment & playtime in afterschool activities (either the on-site program or elsewhere). I would be very sorry to see a unique high-quality program like Peralta's eliminated in order to conform to a standardized district model. Hopefully that won't happen since our school building wasn't built to accomodate the extra classroom space that would be required for two all-day classes. Susan